Four Nations Test Match and Northland Primary Schools Championship
WOW – what a week for League in Northland. To have two quality teams in Whangarei for a week was a great event! We were fortunate that the Test Match coincided with the Northland Primary School Championship Finals. The Thursday before the Test, 31 teams from 26 Primary Schools from Ruawai to Kaitaia and everywhere in between flocked to Kensington Park to see who would make the final and get to play the Curtain Raiser on Toll Stadium. Oh and lets not forget, that the FULL Kiwi and Samoan Team came along for a mass signing session with the kids!
The tournament was played in two grades – Years 4-6 and 7-8, the teams qualified from their regional qualifying tournament. In the Year 4-6 grade Whau Valley defeated Maungatapere and in the Year 7-8 grade Whangarei Intermediate defeated Bream Bay. Congratulations to Whau Valley and Whangarei Intermediate. A big thank you to the 26 Swords 15s and 17s who attended the day as Referees and Tournament Officials!
Then on to the test match! 17,000 fans at Toll Stadium – brilliant sunshine, great atmosphere – what an advert for Northland! The Whangarei Council estimated that the event was worth $4 million to the local community! The Kiwis scraped home against a big aggressive Samoan pack to ensure that the home supporters left happy.
So what is the legacy of the match? The event was staged as a test event for the 2017 World Cup which NZRL joint host with Australia. So we can only hope that Toll secures some games in 2017. However, shorter term, RLN and Toll Stadium will explore opportunities of hosting some high profile games in 2016… NRL games in Northland? Everything is possible.